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Centre for Trophoblast Research


Scientific milestones 2018


Placentation defects are highly prevalent in embryonic lethal mouse mutants

Vicente Perez Garcia, Myriam Hemberger and colleagues published the placental data arising from the Deciphering the Mechanisms of Developmental Disorders programme, showing that a high proportion (~70%) of knockout lines that are lethal display placental dysmorphogenesis. This study raises the profile of the placenta, and emphasises the importance of assessing both the extra-embryonic and embryonic lineages in mutant lines. 



Single-cell reconstruction of the early maternal–fetal interface in humans

Roser Vento, Margherita Turco, Ashley Moffett and colleagues reported the results of single-cell sequencing of the decidua during the first trimester based on analysis of 70,000 cells. They identified three major subsets of decidual natural killer cells that have distinctive immunomodulatory and chemokine profiles. They have also developed a repository of ligand–receptor complexes and a statistical tool to predict the cell-type specificity of cell–cell communication via these molecular interactions. These data provide an unprecedented insight into the cellular interactions during early placentation.



Trophoblast organoids as a model for maternal–fetal interactions during human placentation

Margherita Turco, Lucy Gardner, Graham Burton, Ashley Moffett and colleagues derived trophoblast organoids from early placental tissues. These cultures are genetically stable in culture, can be maintained for over 1 year, frozen and biobanked, and show almost identical transciptomes and methylomes to first trimester trophoblast. They are functionally active, secreting an array of hormones and placental-specific glycoproteins. The cultures are the result of several decades of research, and will be transformative in the field.